Sister Bernadette Has Vision of Bettie Page

Is there anyone out there who’s never heard of the infamous pin-up model, Bettie Page? She was a big deal in the 1950s, probably because she tweaked — well, more than just tweaked — the McCarthy era self-righteousness. But I’m getting way ahead of myself here.

While I was in Vegas, one of my thin friends — we’ll call her Jill — wanted me to go on a shopping trip with her. We ended up in the Miracle Mile Shopping Mall, right there attached to Planet Hollywood. As we wandered through the mall, I wondered — where are the stores that carry the Big Girl stuff? Then it suddenly dawned on me. This is Planet Hollywood, baby — they don’t want no Big Girls ’round here. But I can carry Jill’s stuff while she tries on dresses. I’ll amuse myself some other way while she’s trying on clothes.

We hit all these young and trendy places and Jill didn’t like anything she had found so far. And then we saw it — the Bettie Page store. The first thing I noticed was that all the dresses were classic. It didn’t take any imagination at all to see them on Audrey Hepburn or Jayne Mansfield. The second thing I noticed was that they had normal sizes from XS-XL but they didn’t look like anything I could fit into. Which was cool since I’m not that crazy about wearing dresses anyway. So I wandered around the perimeter of the store.

I started seeing stuff like fishnet stockings and stiletto heeled shoes. T-shirts with Bettie Page in Sado mode. I kept seeing guys wander into the store — by themselves, no girlfriends. I couldn’t figure it out.

And then I saw why. A flat-screen tv up on the wall was playing a continuous loop of old grainy black and white films. Of bondage scenes and spanking scenes. And then what appeared to be a sex scene between two women but part of it had been digitally altered so that it wasn’t graphic. At that point, I decided that I shouldn’t be standing there staring just like the men so I went to the other side of the store to peruse the t-shirts again.

But then, a few minutes later, I was gawking at the screen again. Totally mesmerized by those images of Bettie Page. From then on, no matter where I was in the store, I couldn’t look away. No wonder Jill asked me several times if I really liked the dress she picked out. I was in shock. Like Sister Bernadette having a vision of the Not-So-Virgin Mary.

Here’s one of the tamer Bettie Page SM pics that I found. I can’t help but think of SCTV when I look at it. It reminds me of a Catherine O’Hara character outside her trailer saying something like, “Yep, they found my Bill in there. Bound up like a pig with a rubber ball stuffed in his mouth. Cryin’ like a baby.”

Gretchen Mol as Betty Page

Gretchen Mol as Betty Page in The Notorious Betty Page

And check out this Bettie Page interview — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0Ynlp7sxZ

This interview has tame photos and comments from Bettie’s pin-up days. If you want to see the underground Bettie, you’ll have to YouTube yourself…

Published in: on August 15, 2008 at 2:42 pm  Comments (2)  
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